Population trends, reproductive success, and organochlorine chemical contaminants in waterbirds nesting in Galveston Bay, Texas

  • Kirke A. King
  • Alexander J. Krynitsky
Article

Abstract

The effects of environmental contaminants on the reproductive success of olivaceous cormorants (Phalacrocorax olivaceus), laughing gulls (Larus atricilla), and black skimmers (Rhynchops niger) nesting in Galveston Bay, Texas were investigated from 1980 through 1982. Populations of cormorants and gulls have remained stable in recent years, but skimmer numbers may have declined. Cormorants produced 1.9 to 2.8 young per pair in nests that remained active throughout the season. Gull and skimmer reproduction was seriously limited by storms and predation. DDE and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) residues in carcasses and eggs generally were below levels associated with chronic poisoning and reproductive problems in most species of birds. Possible exceptions were four black skimmer carcasses with DDE concentrations that ranged from 20 to 92Μg/g and one olivaceous cormorant carcass with 20Μg/g DDE. The generally low levels of dieldrin, chlordane, HCB, toxaphene, and heptachlor epoxide were below those know to affect avian reproduction and survival. Mean DDE residues in cormorant and gull eggs were less than 1.8Μg/g. The mean DDE residue in skimmer eggs was less than 3.3Μg/g; 12% of the skimmer eggs contained at least 12Μg/g DDE, a level known to cause reproductive problems in some avian species. DDE in the eggs of all species declined from 1.5- to 7-fold over the past decade. Polychlorinated biphenyl was detected in all gull and skimmer eggs and in 90% of the cormorant eggs. Residues of PCB in cormorant and skimmer eggs in 1980–82 were lower than in 1970, but the frequency of occurrence in gull eggs increased. Polychlorinated styrenes were recovered in 45% of the cormorant carcasses at levels below 1Μg/g. Eggshell thicknesses in all three species were similar to those of eggshells collected before the widespread use of DDT.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anderson RD (1975) Petroleum hydrocarbons and oyster resources of Galveston Bay, Texas. In: Conference on Prevention and Controi of Oil Pollution. Amer Petrol Inst, Washington, DC, pp 541–548Google Scholar
  2. Blus LJ (1982) Further interpretation of the relation of organochlorine residues in brown pelican eggs to reproductive success. Environ Pollut 28:15–33Google Scholar
  3. Blus LJ, Neely BS Jr, Belisle AA, Prouty RM (1974) Organochlorine residues in brown pelican eggs: relation to reproductive success. Environ Pollut 7:81–91Google Scholar
  4. Blus LJ, Stafford CJ (1980) Breeding bioiogy and relation of pollutants to black skimmers and gull-billed terns in South Carolina. US Fish and Wildlife Service Special Scientific Report-Wildlife No. 230. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  5. Burger J (1982) The role of reproductive success in colony-site selection and abandonment in black skimmers (Rynchops niger). Auk 99:109–115Google Scholar
  6. Clark DR Jr, Clawson RL, Stafford CJ (1983) Gray bats killed by dieldrin at two additional Missouri caves: aquatic microinvertebrates found dead. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 30:214–218Google Scholar
  7. Cromartie E, Reichel WL, Locke LN, Belisle AA, Kaiser TE, Lamont TG, Mulhern BM, Prouty RM, Swineford DM (1975) Residues of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls and autopsy data for bald eagles, 1971–72. Pestic Monit J 9:11–14Google Scholar
  8. Custer TW, Heinz GH (1980) Reproductive success and nest attentiveness of mallard ducks fed Aroclor 1254. Environ Pollut 21:313–318Google Scholar
  9. Dames and Moore (1982) Inventory of toxic and hazardous waste disposal and discharge sites in the New Orleans and Houston areas. Biological Services Program, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  10. DePue J (1974) Nesting and reproduction of the black skimmer (Rynchops niger) on four spoil islands in the Laguna Madre, Texas. M. S. Thesis, Texas A. & I Univ, Kingsville, TXGoogle Scholar
  11. Dinsmore JJ, Schreiber RW (1979) Breeding and annual cycle of laughing gulls in Florida. Part I: nesting, egg, and incubation parameters. Bird-Band 50:304–321Google Scholar
  12. Erwin RM (1977) Black skimmer breeding ecology and behavior. Auk 94:709–717Google Scholar
  13. Kaiser TE, Reichel WL, Locke LN, Cromartie E, Krynitsky AJ, Lamont TG, Mulhern BM, Prouty RM, Stafford CJ, Swineford DM (1980) Organochlorine pesticide, PCB, PBB residues and necropsy data for bald eagles from 29 states—1975–77. Pestic Monit J 13:145–149Google Scholar
  14. King KA, Flickinger EL, Hildebrand HH (1978) Shell thinning and pesticide residues in Texas aquatic bird eggs, 1970. Pestic Monit J 12:16–21Google Scholar
  15. King KA, Lefever CA (1979) Effects of oil transferred from incubating gulls to their eggs. Marine Pollut Bull 10:319–321Google Scholar
  16. Kury CR (1969) Pesticide residues in a marine population of double-crested cormorants. J Wildl Manage 33:91–95Google Scholar
  17. Morrison ML, Shanley E Jr, Slack RD (1979) Breeding biology and age specific mortality of olivaceous cormorants. Southwest Natur 24:259–266Google Scholar
  18. Morrison ML, Slack RD (1977) Population trends and status of the olivaceous cormorant. Amer Birds 31:954–959Google Scholar
  19. Morrison ML, Slack RD, Shanley E Jr (1978) Declines in environmental pollutants in olivaceous cormorant eggs from Texas, 1970–1977. Wilson Bull 90:640–642Google Scholar
  20. Neter J, Wasserman W (1974) Applied linear statistical models. Richard D Irwin Inc, Home wood, ILGoogle Scholar
  21. Oberholser HC (1974) The birdlife of Texas. Vol. 1. Univ Texas Press, Austin, TXGoogle Scholar
  22. Potts GR (1968) Success of the eggs of the shag on the Farne Islands, Northumberland in relation to their content of dieldrin andp,p′-DDE. Nature 217:1282–1284Google Scholar
  23. Safina C, Burger J (1983) Effects of human disturbance on reproductive success of the black skimmer. Condor 85:164–171Google Scholar
  24. Schreiber EA, Schreiber RW, Dinsmore JJ (1979) Breeding biology of laughing gulls in Florida. Part I: nesting, egg, and incubation parameters. Bird-Band 50:304–321Google Scholar
  25. Smith JN (1972) The decline of Galveston Bay. The Conservation Foundation, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  26. Stickel LF (1973) Pesticide residues in birds and mammals. In: Edwards CA (ed) Environmental pollution by pesticides. Plenum Press, New York, NY, pp 254–312Google Scholar
  27. Stickel LF, Wiemeyer SN, Blus LJ (1973) Pesticide residues in eggs of wild birds: adjustments for loss of moisture and lipid. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 9:193–196Google Scholar
  28. Texas Colonial Waterbird Society (1982) An atlas and census of Texas waterbird colonies. Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Kingsville, TXGoogle Scholar
  29. Weseloh DV, Mineau P, Hallett DJ (1979) Organochlorine contaminants and trends in reproduction in Great Lakes herring gulls, 1974–1978. Trans N Am Wildl Nat Resour Conf 44:543–557Google Scholar
  30. White DH, Mitchell CA, Swineford DM (1984) Reproductive success of black skimmers in Texas relative to environmental pollutants. J Field Ornithol 55:18–30Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirke A. King
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alexander J. Krynitsky
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterU.S. Fish Wildlife ServiceVictoria
  2. 2.Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceLaurel

Personalised recommendations